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A Legal Victory for Endangered Animals in Ontario!

Animal Justice May 8, 2018

Last fall, you may remember that Animal Justice filed a lawsuit to protect the mountain lion, northern bobwhite, and dozens of other threatened and endangered species in the province of Ontario. Represented by lawyers from Ecojustice, we were concerned that the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry was failing to meet its legal obligations to issue recovery strategies for animals at risk of imminent extinction.

Today, we’re happy to announce that Animal Justice and the Ministry have reached a settlement in the case. The Ministry will now begin providing public updates on its progress to develop recovery strategies for 37 at-risk species—including the mountain lion, northern bobwhite bird, black redhorse fish, gypsy cuckoo bumble bee, and other mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, and plants.

This is a huge win for species at risk in the province. Recovery strategies provide scientific advice on how to ensure that healthy numbers of each species return to Ontario. As part of the settlement agreement, the Ministry will also create and release a timetable on the next steps toward creating recovery strategies for the 37 species at risk who are named in the lawsuit. The timetable will be updated every three months with the Ministry’s latest progress.

The world is in the midst of a global extinction crisis of epic proportions. As Ontario’s Endangered Species Act recognizes, animal species are disappearing from the planet at an alarming rate due to human activities.

Ironically, the decimation of wild animal populations is being driven by breeding and confining domesticated animals on industrial farms, then slaughtering them for human consumption. Scientists have singled out animal agriculture as a leading contributor to global species extinction due to the massive greenhouse gas emissions associated with raising animals, meat-related deforestation, habitat destruction, heavy water use, and pollution.

Animal Justice is committed both to protecting individual animals from suffering, as well as ensuring wild animals do not disappear forever from our planet. We are thrilled to have worked with our friends at Ecojustice on this important case, and even more pleased by what we’ve achieved together for animals in Ontario. We couldn’t have done it without the generosity of our supporters—please join us in celebrating this incredible victory!

 

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Vancouver Transit Police Target Animal Activist for Showing Slaughterhouse Footage

Animal Justice March 16, 2018

TransLink Transit Police in Vancouver have ticketed an animal advocate for spreading awareness of animal cruelty by showing farm and slaughterhouse footage to passersby on the street.

Jeff Rigear is a former undercover investigator on Canadian farms who now runs TV Outreach for Animals. Mr. Rigear sets up a 42-inch television screen on busy streets in Vancouver, and plays video footage exposing brutal conditions inside modern farms and slaughterhouses. He hands out leaflets and speaks with pedestrians about veganism to inspire personal dietary change and help save farmed animals from unimaginable suffering.

Mr. Rigear was recently approached by several transit police officers while doing outreach near a transit station. According to a letter filed by a lawyer for Mr. Rigear, the conduct of the officers was “extremely disturbing”. They rudely accused him of enjoying the slaughterhouse video, then told him repeatedly that they did not like his footage. Disturbingly, one officer suggested that he should “just smash [the] TV”.

The officers then had a lengthy discussion about how they could charge Mr. Rigear, and which laws they could accuse him of violating. They eventually issued him a ticket for soliciting transit users. However, the law is clear that soliciting requires an attempt to get money or other items of value from a person. Mr. Rigear was not asking for money—he was distributing information, and engaged in his constitutional right to express his views on animal cruelty, which is an important topic of intense public and social interest.

Animal Justice is concerned by this apparent attempt by TransLink Transit Police to target an animal advocate for his views. Animals have no rights of their own, which is why we regularly fight to protect the rights of advocates like Mr. Rigear who are targeted by law enforcement while engaged in lawful activities.

We will continue to monitor this case as it proceeds through the court system.

 

 

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Vancouver Aquarium Drops Copyright Lawsuit Against Filmmaker

Animal Justice March 8, 2018

VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Aquarium has dropped its copyright lawsuit against filmmaker Gary Charbonneau. The Aquarium filed a notice of discontinuance in the case this week, shortly before CEO John Nightingale was set to be cross-examined by counsel for Mr. Charbonneau.

The Aquarium first filed the copyright infringement lawsuit against Mr. Charbonneau in 2016 over his documentary Vancouver Aquarium Uncovered, which exposed the Aquarium’s cruel practice of confining sentient whales and dolphins in concrete tanks. The lawsuit was deemed a misuse of copyright law by legal experts, designed to suppress public criticism and debate through the court process.

The Aquarium sought to have the entire documentary removed from the internet, and was successful in obtaining a preliminary injunction ordering that certain segments be removed. On appeal, the B.C. Court of Appeal overturned that injunction, emphasizing the importance of Mr. Charbonneau’s freedom of expression.

Animal Justice intervened in the appeal to express concerns that the case could negatively affect the ability of animal advocates to film, expose, and publicize animal cruelty issues across Canada, emboldening secretive animal use industries to file illegitimate copyright lawsuits to silence animal advocates. This could prevent them from investigating, documenting, and exposing hidden animal cruelty.

“I am delighted this frivolous lawsuit has finally been dropped,” said Mr. Charbonneau. “However, I remain troubled by the Aquarium’s aggressive litigation strategy, and I am concerned they will continue to fight losing legal battles at the expense of conservation and rescue.”

“We are glad the Aquarium has finally determined to drop its unmeritorious lawsuit and let the documentary speak for itself, so that Canadians can make their own judgments about the ethics of the Aquarium’s practices,” said Arden Beddoes of Arvay Finlay LLP, counsel to Mr. Charbonneau.

“This lawsuit had disturbing implications for those who investigate, document, and expose animal cruelty,” said Camille Labchuk, a lawyer and executive director of Animal Justice. “The writing is on the wall for the cruel captivity industry, as the public no longer supports keeping sentient animals confined for entertainment.”

The Aquarium also sought judicial review of the Vancouver Park Board’s bylaw banning them from keeping whales and dolphins in Stanley Park. The bylaw was overturned last month, but the Park Board is appealing to the B.C. Court of Appeal.

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The Notice of Discontinuance is available here.

For more information, contact:

Gary Charbonneau
evotioninc@gmail.com

Arden Beddoes
Arvay Finlay LLP
abeddoes@arvayfinlay.ca

Camille Labchuk
Executive Director, Animal Justice
camille@animaljustice.ca

Animal Justice

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